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[PC] Jon Shafer's At the Gates

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[PC] Jon Shafer's At the Gates

Unread postby Joshua » 06 Feb 2013 20:19

Official site:

Kickstarter fund: ... -the-gates

Jon Schafer's new game development studio:

Jon Schafer wrote:At the Gates is an empire builder similar to Sid Meier's Civilization. Starting with a small tribe, you must explore the world, exploit its scarce resources, and eliminate or outsmart potential enemies. The game starts simple but grows in complexity until you command a mighty economic and military powerhouse.

Over the course of a single game your tribe will migrate to more lush and bountiful lands, conquer and barter with other clans, work alongside the Romans, learn from them, and finally destroy them. Along the way, you'll need to master the art of war and craft cunning plans to strengthen your kingdom - all while enduring the worst mother nature can throw at you!

At the Gates features several innovations which separate it from other empire builders.

A single playthrough of At the Gates becomes more interesting the deeper in you get, unlike many strategy titles which lose steam when victory becomes assured midway through. Over time, the world’s resources are slowly but inevitably consumed, forcing you to seek out new sources of food and wealth if you hope to survive. The most satisfying victories are those which are hard-earned!

But the world is much more than simply a canvas for resources. At the Gates takes the traditional concept of randomized maps to a new level. As time passes so do the seasons, transforming the very landscape which surrounds you. Once-fertile grasslands become barren dirt. The waterways you've grown familiar with will freeze over, thwarting or aiding your travels. Accounting for the environment is essential not only when planning military campaigns, but also planning for the harvest necessary to feed your hungry clan.

At the Gates innovates on the diplomatic front as well. Relationships are cultivated by completing situational requests for other leaders, giving you the ability to dramatically reshape the political landscape. If Attila’s people are starving, then providing him with a timely gift of food could very well earn you a friend for life. The tools for forging powerful alliances are always right at your fingertips.

While making friends is always nice, there will be times when discussions break down and you must take to the battlefield. Success in combat requires careful timing and management of supply, particularly during the harsh winter months. Starving an enemy into submission can be a powerful tactic - but first ensure your own troops are fed!

They already have a playable prototype of the game, so they only asked for $40,000. More elaboration here: ... the-gates/

Jon Schafer wrote:I’ve played them; games like Warlock, Fallen Enchantress which I helped work on, Endless Space… I have enjoyed them, but I feel that in many ways they are working form the same formula, and that they have the same issues: The fact that the mid-game loses momentum.

If those are the grand strategy games he's citing as having these problems (i.e., completely irrelevant games), I'm suspicious of his claims about his new title being a major innovation in this respect. But I haven't played enough older grand strategy games to know either way.

First 15 minutes:

Edit: Original pictures were quite small, just found larger ones on a different site.

A zoomed-in shot of the landscape during summer and then during winter:



Zoomed-out shots of winter vs. summer:


The start of the game:


Other shots:


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Unread postby Joshua » 06 Feb 2013 20:43

Posted edited with newer, larger screenshots.

I really like that character art for Attila. Otherwise the graphics look like the same kind of fare you would get with one of those FreeCiv/FreeCol/etc. open-source remakes (in fact it looks a heck of a lot like a hex-based FreeCol), but less stark and with nice sprites, and therefore much more charming.
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Unread postby icycalm » 07 Feb 2013 01:51

Yeah, I read that RPS interview earlier today and was planning to make the thread. The preview itself was surprisingly well-written for what it is, and about as good as an uncritical preview can be. Minimum of fluff, and even the jokes flow well and don't feel forced or fake, which is extremely rare on RPS. As for the game though, it is hilarious. That Shafer dude fucked up the premier grand strategy series, and now he's claiming to "fix" the genre (as if it needed fixing! -- his criticisms of it are absurd; there's nothing wrong with the midgame, except if you don't know how to play perhaps) with $40,000 and a game that's clearly not grand strategy. I mean BARBARIANS, for christsake! That's the entire point of barbarians, moran! They don't explore (at least not in the way civilized people explore; barbarians simply move), they don't research, and they don't build shit. They can barely even form themselves into big units and fight war properly! This is in no way, shape or form a grand strategy game -- though it may very well end up being a decently enjoyable regular strategy one. Still, I have no sympathy for barbarians, especially when they are going up against the Romans. And on another note the seasonal changes have been in Koei's strategy games since the '90s. Not perhaps influencing the map to such an extent, but definitely other factors such as crop production etc.

The end of the interview is a very fitting one, by the way:

Joe Robinson wrote:Meanwhile, Shafer will be gathering his warbands, waiting until the day he can make that final push. Does he consider himself a barbarian at the gate, coming to show a decadent people how 4X is really done?

"[laughs] Well, maybe. Some of the barbarians were squished pretty quickly though. Others just showed up, broke some things and then disappeared… hopefully that’s not the analogy we’re going to be working with."

In respect to the grand strategy genre, that's exactly what he is: a barbarian looking to come in, break some stuff (how the genre works) and get away with as much loot as he can. And note that the barbarians never conquered Rome, as is generally believed. They simply became Romans, just as the Romans had become Greeks before them, and the Orientals and the rest of the world are becoming Westerners now. The greater culture always conquers the lower in the long run, no matter what happens on the battlefield.
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Unread postby madman » 11 Dec 2018 15:40

Steam page went up recently, due to the imminent release (January 23): ... the_Gates/

Conifer Games wrote:At the Gates is an indie strategy game from Jon Shafer, designer of Civilization 5. You are a dark age lord building a kingdom to replace the crumbling Roman Empire. Manage your clans, explore the landscape around you, harvest its resources, and build a mighty economic and military machine.







Official Trailer:

It's not even going in Early Access, it'll be the final release.
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